With more South Africans travelling into Africa, we need to be aware of the health risks. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), along with HIV/Aids and tuberculosis (TB), malaria is one of the biggest killers worldwide.
Of the estimated 660 000 malaria deaths each year, 90% occur in Africa, with 40% occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria combined. Malaria is prevalent in 15 of the 17 African countries in which Standard Bank Group operates. Lesotho and Mauritius do not have malaria.
Non-immune travellers from malaria-free areas travelling to areas where malaria is endemic are more vulnerable to the disease when they are infected, making early diagnosis and treatment essential to prevention of death and further transmission. The three most effective preventative measures for those at-risk are insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor spraying with residual insecticides and antimalarial medicines.
Beyond the immediate effects of the disease, malaria has far-reaching socioeconomic consequences and is commonly associated with poverty. Poverty can increase the risk of malaria, since those in poverty do not have the financial means to prevent or treat the disease, but there is some evidence suggesting that it causes poverty and can be a major hindrance to economic development.
In its entirety, the economic impact of malaria has been estimated to cost Africa US$12-billion every year, including healthcare costs, work days lost due to sickness, days lost in education, decreased productivity due to brain damage from cerebral malaria and loss of investment and tourism.
The disease is a heavy burden in some countries, where it may be responsible for 30 to 50% of hospital admissions, up to 50% of outpatient visits and account for up to 40% of public health spending. However, it is hoped that the roll back malaria campaign “Invest in the future: Defeat malaria” will help strengthen the political will across the continent and will contribute to increasing the funding needed to prevent and cure the disease in endemic countries.
Standard Bank Group spends 1% of its profit before tax each year on community projects. Many of these initiatives dovetail with Standard Bank Group’s health and wellness programmes. Standard Bank Group’s Employee Community Involvement programme offers to match the funds raised by its employees for community charities and programmes including organisations dealing with HIV/Aids, TB and malaria.